ATD Congratulates the 2016 Sammies Winners

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Amid the cynicism about government effectiveness and the lack of public trust, there are thousands of dedicated public servants who work to keep America moving. This would go unnoticed, if not for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, also known as the Sammies.  

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service presented Sammies on September 20 to remarkable civil servants who are making a difference in their communities and improving the lives of Americans and others around the world. The awards are designed to honor outstanding federal employees engaged in important work to spur the economy, protect the environment, and advance the health, safety, and well-being of Americans 

“During this highly-charged presidential election season, we should not forget the innovative and talented federal civil servants who are delivering incredible results for the American public,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO. “Whoever is elected, our next president will need dedicated government workers, like the ones we are recognizing at the Service to America Medals, to carry out his or her agenda. A workforce of high-performing career civil servants is vital to the success of the new administration and for our government as a whole.”

The recipients of the 2016 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals are:

Federal Employee of the Year: Paul McGann, Dennis Wagner, and Jean Moody-Williams, a team at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Each year, it is estimated that tens of thousands of U.S. hospital patients die because of medical errors and avoidable infections, costing hospitals billions of dollars annually and eroding patient trust in the health care system. This team created a unique public-private initiative to increase patient safety and reduce hospital readmissions. The results were an estimated 87,000 lives saved, 2.1 million fewer medical errors and $20 billion in cost savings. 

Career Achievement Medal: Kathleen B. Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Energy
In more than two decades in government, Hogan has overseen a number of pivotal national energy efficiency initiatives and new standards that will lead to 3 billion fewer tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and save taxpayers a half trillion dollars. 


Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal: Thomas A. Mariani, Jr., Steven O’Rourke and Sarah D. Himmelhoch of the Department of Justice 
This team led the government’s five-year, landmark case against BP for the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In litigating the case, the trio secured for the Department of Justice and five states a record-breaking $20.8 billion settlement, the government’s largest ever against a single defendant. It will help redress the devastating environmental and economic damage caused to the Gulf Coast region. 

National Security and International Affairs Medal: Kirk Yeager, chief explosives scientist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Yeager has assisted with virtually every high-profile bomb attack in the past several years, including bombings in European cities this past spring. As the FBI’s premier bomb expert, Yeager leads U.S. and foreign law enforcement to determine how terrorist-made explosives work and finds new ways to detect and stop them.

Science and Environment Medal: Jaques Reifman and the APPRAISE team at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
Undetected internal bleeding is the greatest risk to the lives of seriously wounded soldiers, yet taking vital signs does not supply all the information medics need to figure out if someone is in critical condition. Reifman led the team that created a first-of-its-kind, portable computer system to detect internal bleeding quickly and accurately during emergency transport. It enables medics to treat patients appropriately and alert trauma centers to get ready to provide immediate blood transfusions to save these patients’ lives. 

Call to Service Medal: Tate A. Jarrow, special agent for the U.S. Secret Service
Jarrow played a vital role in two of the government’s biggest cybercrime cases, and helped bring to justice individuals involved in computer hacking, stock manipulation, credit card fraud, money laundering and other illicit activities.  

Citizen Services Medal: Lisa M. Jones, program manager for the Department of the Treasury
Jones stood up and now directs a long-term bond program that has resulted in $852 million in loans to low-income communities since 2013. The loans have financed small businesses, affordable rental housing, day care centers, senior living facilities, charter schools and health care facilities. The game-changing program is set up to function at no cost to taxpayers. 

Management Excellence Medal: William Gregory Burel, director of the division of Strategic National Stockpile at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Burel expertly manages the $7 billion repository of critical medication and supplies available to supplement state and local resources during a public health emergency. He has led 10 large-scale and more than 30 smaller emergency deployments, from an influenza pandemic to the Ebola crisis. 

People’s Choice Award: Edward Grace and the Operation Crash Team of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
As part of a broad U.S. strategy to combat this pernicious wildlife trafficking, Grace and his team have been leading a nationwide law enforcement investigation known as Operation Crash that is targeting those who smuggle, sell and trade the very lucrative rhino horns and elephant ivory. This is the second time the public was able to vote for the federal employee they think has made the most admirable contribution to the American people. This year’s People’s Choice received 13,000 votes! All 32 Sammies finalists were eligible to win this award. 

For profiles and videos of the medalists, and to nominate a federal employee for a 2017 medal, visit 

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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